Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Power

How to Argue With an Old Conservative

Over at the The Wall Street Journal, Crispin Sartwell recently offered an argument against Sanders-style democratic socialism. Titled “How to Argue With a Young Socialist,” Sartwell clearly believes his argument to be a good one. The editors of the WSJ op-ed page certainly seem to have thought it’s worth printing. So I was shocked by just how poorly constructed it is.

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Why Rebellions and Revolutions Don’t Work Very Well

Throughout the history of civilization, there have been people who have been tasked with providing the necessities of life–growing the food, collecting resources, making the tools, and so on. There have also been people who don’t do this kind of work, who instead have lots of free time. These people have free time because other people provide their necessities for them. In this sense, the first group of people serves the second. The precise social mechanic governing this service has shifted over the years. In the early days, the first group of people were slaves of the second group. Slavery was an astounding social invention–it made it possible for some of us to have large amounts of free time, and we used that free time to do art and science and high politics. But slavery only worked by denying the vast majority of people access to that free time. It precipitated largescale inequality. This made it difficult to sustain. The slaves were unhappy, and unhappy slaves are unproductive. The slaveowners eventually discovered a secret–happy slaves are more productive than unhappy slaves. And to make the slaves happy, you had to tell them a story about how they were free. Into this space steps capitalism, and the employer-employee relationship. You are free to work for any master–but you must work for one, or you won’t earn enough to make a living. The masters have pooled the slaves and shared them, and told the slaves this makes them free. And for the most part, the slaves buy it. Except when they don’t. This piece is about that.

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The Left’s Technophobic Streak

Lately I’ve found myself making an observation about the modern political left–it has a tendency to fall into a rather unbecoming technophobia. On a slew of issues, from guns to drones to surveillance to GMO food to nuclear power, there is an increasing tendency for people on the left to attack the new technologies themselves instead of any specific use or consequence thereof.

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Deepening the Critique of Marxism

I found myself in another lecture on Marxism yesterday. Why do I say “another”? I did a cursory search of my own website and found that just shy of a year ago, I was responding to a lecture about Marxism on this blog. In that piece, my focus was primarily a criticism of the solutions Marx and the Marxists offer. Specifically, I was objecting to the Marxist belief that it is possible for people to be socially rewired so as to become more altruistic or otherwise capable of working hard without a scale of variant material incentives. Rereading that argument, I found myself agreeing, but I also found my critique had deepened, that there was somewhat more to it than I said last year. That’s what I’d like to develop today.

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